RODALE NEWSROOM, EMMAUS, PA—Kids, teens and young adults age 20 and under who use cell phones have a five-fold greater chance of developing brain cancer, according to new research delivered at the first international conference on mobile phones and health in London last month. If you use a cordless phone, your risk is nearly as great, according to lead researcher Lennart Hardell, M.D., professor of oncology at the University Orebro in Sweden, who presented at the conference. He says kids are particularly vulnerable because their skulls are thinner and their brains and nervous systems are still developing. And today’s kids are the first cohort to grow up around cell phones, which have only been in heavy use for about a decade.
THE DETAILS: Hardell’s latest findings on cell and cordless phones haven’t been published yet. But the details he presented at the conference show that he polled more than two-thousand cancer patients and a similar number of healthy people about their use of cell and cordless phones. Hardell says cordless phones are nearly as dangerous as cell phones because people talk on them for longer periods of time. They also emit radiation all the time. “It sends the same signal all the time, regardless if one is talking on it,” Hardell explains. “Cordless phones are used more than mobile phones; in our studies, about three times longer time per cumulative use.”
WHAT IT MEANS: We’ve heard about the potential dangers of cell phones. But cordless phones? Like powered-on cell phones, they send out radiation even when you’re not talking on the phone. While researchers continue to try to find a definitive answer on cell and cordless phone dangers, here are ways to reduce your exposure (and remember, school-age kids should only use either type of phone in an emergency):
For cordless phones:
• Restore the cord. When asked over E-mail what a person should do, Hardell shot back a definitive one-liner: “Go back to corded phones!”
• Banish the base station. If you’re not ready or able to cut the cordless, keep it as far away from family gathering spots as possible—like a foyer or entranceway. But remember, researchers have detected radiation levels throughout entire homes that use cordless phones.
For cell phones:
• Get to the point. Keep conversations very short.
• Keep your distance. Never put the phone directly to your ear; always use a speaker or hollow-tube earpiece—it cuts back the radiation your brain absorbs. Don’t wear your cell phone on your body or put it in your pocket unless it’s turned off or in offline mode. Keep it off your nightstand, too.
• Don’t talk, text. Your phone isn’t as close to your brain or body while texting, so researchers consider it safer than talking.